Sinn Féin spokesperson on Disability and Carers, Deputy Pauline Tully, has been informed by parents of a number of children with disabilities that they have been left high and dry after being notified at the last minute by Bus Éireann that their school transport would not commence as expected.
Parents told Deputy Tully that they were informed that the private bus contractors servicing a number of routes had handed back their contracts and that they would have to organize this transport themselves until Bus Éireann can secure a new service.
Teachta Tully said:
“I am astounded that children with disabilities would be abandoned like this and that their parents would be given such short notice of their child’s bus service not operating.
“These parents had previously been informed that their children had secured a school transport place, only for this to be turned on its head in the last few days when they were updated that bus contractors servicing their bus route had handed back their contracts and that they would have to organize this transport themselves until Bus Éireann secured a new service.
“This has left a lot of parents in the lurch and struggling to find an alternative way to get their children to school.
“Some of these parents, who have access to a suitable vehicle, are working or studying and are having to take time off work or college to ensure their children to not miss out in their first weeks back to school.
“Other parents do not have access to a suitable vehicle, and they have to try to organize a private taxi to bring their child to school and home again.
“This is a scandalously bad situation these parent and their children have been left in. The short notice given has left parents in an almost impossible situation in trying to find an alternative.
“It makes little sense that neither Bus Éireann nor the Department of Education would not have been aware of private bus operators having issues with regard to their contracts to operate these routes.
“I have written to the Minister to query when the issuesregarding the contracts were first flagged by the bus operators to her Department, what has been done in the interim period to rectify these issues, and why parents were not given prior notice that issues existed that may leave them having to source alternative transport for their children.
“I have also written to Bus Éireann seeking further information as to how this was allowed to happen, exactly how many schools are effected and how many disabled children have been left in this situation.”